As summer winds down but the heat persists, this simple salad will refresh and help to keep us out of the kitchen because it takes only minutes to pull together before we are enjoying it.
With tomatoes still in season here in Texas, this recipe can help us make use of our local produce, or maybe even our backyard or patio gardens!
Here are a few health benefits of this simple summer salad.
Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) are fruits of the nightshade family that are typically prepared and consumed as a vegetable. These little fruits are mostly water (95%), which helps to hydrate, and the remaining 5% consists primarily of carbohydrates and fiber (1). Tomatoes are a good source of vitamins and minerals like vitamins C and B9 (folate), and potassium (1). Tomatoes contain other beneficial compounds like lycopene, chlorogenic acid, and beta carotene, that act as antioxidants protecting our cells from oxidative damage when consumed and can help lower the risk for heart disease and certain cancers (2).
Cucumber (Cucumis sativus), another fruit eaten as a vegetable that is mostly water to help hydrate, is low in calories but contains many important micronutrients like vitamins K and C and minerals like potassium, manganese, and magnesium (3). The body requires vitamin K for blood clotting and bone synthesis, and adding cumbers to the diet can help increase levels of this important nutrient (4). One type of fiber (pectin) found in cucumbers supports the movement of the intestinal muscles which helps to keep the bowels moving and regular, and it also feeds beneficial bacteria in the gut to aid digestive health (5).
Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is a nutrient-rich vegetable high in vitamins C, K, and B9 and minerals like iron and calcium (6). Folate (vitamin B9) is necessary for the body to make genetic material like DNA and RNA, and it is also required for proper cell division (7). Iron helps the body create hemoglobin which delivers oxygen to every body tissue, and facilitates the return of carbon dioxide to the lungs (8). Calcium is a crucial molecule for signaling in the nervous system, heart, and muscles and is necessary for bone health (9). In addition to these nutrients, spinach boasts many phytochemicals found to support health like lutein and zeaxanthin for eye health, and quercetin that acts as an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory effects in the body (10).
Summer Tomato Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette Recipe
5 cherry tomatoes
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. organic soy sauce
2 cloves garlic
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
4 cups salad mix (baby spinach, kale, lettuces)
1 cucumber, diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 avocado, sliced
Combine all of the vinaigrette ingredients into a blender, and process until smooth.
Set this aside to let the flavors blend while you prepare the salad.
Place the salad mix, cucumber, cherry tomatoes in a large salad bowl and toss to combine.
Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad, toss to combine, and serve with avocado slices.
*This simple salad can be consumed as a light meal on its own, or paired with an animal protein like chicken or hardboiled eggs.
Here’s another simple salad recipe.